Virginia Foods

There's a lot more to Virginia Cuisine than Peanuts!

table full of food at a diner
Virginians so enjoy their food that they create festivals throughout the year, paying homage to it! Folks from the coastal regions honor seafood, crab, shrimp, shad and oysters.

Folks from the Piedmont to the hills honor produce and regional recipes, such as bisquits and gravy, spoonbread and country ham, red-eye gravy over grits . . . jams and jellies, strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler . . . Wine is celebrated everywhere, with Virginia's 90 Wineries & Vineyards! Most are open for tastings year 'round and let you sample their new releases.And ethnic dishes are celebrated by the Greek, African-American, Lebanese, Hungarian, German, Italian, Hispanic, French, Celtic, Cajun and Texan folks who live here!

One of the biggest annual festivals celebrates our beloved Virginia peanut! And of course, wherever there's a gathering, there's usually a pig roast and BBQ included. So when you visit, be sure and bring along your appetite — you'll not go home hungry, and that's a promise!Click on the regions you plan to visit:

Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay = Seafood
couple eating seafood

Stretching between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore peninsula, with its wind-swept barrier islands, is home to a variety of succulent seafoods. At the northern end of the peninsula, the quaint fishing village of Chincoteague — made famous by Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague — draws thousands of visitors each July for the Wild Pony Round-up. Lovers of good seafood find visits there worthwhile any time of the year, especially for Chincoteague's tasty oysters and clams. Fishing boats dock daily after bringing in fresh catches from surrounding waters. Another notable seafood town to the south is Wachapreague, which bills itself as The Flounder Capital of the World.Crab is another Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay delicacy, with lumps of the sweet meat patted into crab cakes and browned in butter. Another favorite is soft shell crabs. Chefs lightly batter and fry blue crabs that have shed their hard outer shells to yield captivating dishes. Oyster lovers will find Chesapeake Bay oysters served raw, steamed, fried and grilled. Is your mouth waterin' yet?



Hampton Roads = Seafood, Peanuts and Pork

hams hanging in a smokehouse
Virginia hams are famous around the world!

The Hampton Roads region is well known for quality seafood as well. Yet, it is equally known for its hams and peanuts! Since the 17th century, when settlers learned the Indians' art of smoking meats, Virginia country hams began to earn an international reputation! Most famous are the Smithfield Hams, which, by law, must be cured within Smithfield's town limits.The Tidewater area's plentiful peanut fields make this area equally famous for peanuts. Handsome, plump Virginia peanuts are the largest of the four peanut types grown in the United States. The Virginia Diner in Wakefield is famous for the peanuts it packages and sends around the world.


Central Virginia = Comfort Foods, Wine and Apples

family eating at Michie Tavern

Michie Tavern in Charlottesville presents good
old-fashioned Virginia home cookin' that even kids love!

When travelers seek comfort they often go in search of comfort foods. Brunswick County, located in south Central Virginia, is the documented birthplace of the hearty meat and vegetable-based Brunswick Stew that has long warmed brisk autumn and winter days and is served at most festivals in the region.The South's classic foods of fried chicken and black-eyed peas have been familiar staples in the heart of this region. Historic Michie Tavern, just outside of Charlottesville, serves this delicious southern fare with lots of cornbread, biscuits and slaw!Perched on a nearby mountain top is the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello. His enlightened approach to food molded the course of Virginia food and wine history. To his garden, Jefferson brought sophisticated vegetables and plants from Europe, including Belgian endive, eggplant, artichokes and salsify. Today, visitors can bridge history with seeds and seedlings of some of the original plants at the Monticello Garden Center on site.

Northern Virginia = Wines and Mushrooms

Specialty food products are as much a part of the landscape here as horses cantering along fence lines. From ginger-scented, horseshoe-shaped shortbread to award-winning applewood smoked trout, Northern Virginia feeds a demand for gourmet products and upscale produce, including culinary herbs and shiitake mushrooms.As with other areas of Virginia, this region is also known for its vineyards and wineries. The state's industry has ripened in recent years and gained the respect of wine critics at home and abroad. It's a dream come true for native son Thomas Jefferson who first recognized the state's climate as one suitable for premium grapes.

Shenandoah Valley = Apples, Peaches and Poultry

colorful apples in baskets

From the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in the spring in Winchester, to the harvest festivals in the fall, this fertile valley yields an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Virginia is one of the nation's top six producers of apples. Red and Golden Delicious, Rome, Stayman, York, Winesap, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Gala are just some of the varieties found in hillside groves. And its wealth of apples leads Winchester, the state's top apple packaging location at the northern tip of the Shenandoah Valley to call itself the Apple Capital of the World. The cool, crisp days of autumn bring chances for visitors to pluck apples fresh off the trees at many pick-your-own orchards. The rich soil of the Shenandoah Valley also nurtures sweet peaches, nectarines and many other crops. Another specialty is the tomato, which is sun-ripened, dried and sold to gourmet food stores around the world.Poultry is raised in abundance, with broiler chickens being the second largest agricultural product for the state. The recognized Birthplace of the Commercial Turkey Industry is Rockingham County, which dubs itself The Turkey Capital of the World.